The first Visma Ski Classics Challenger event and the world’s largest roller-ski race, Alliansloppet, took place today in Trollhättan, Sweden. The 48 km race with three 16 km laps was a scene for some great breakaways, tight sprint finishes and a lot of action.
The elite women’s race started 15 minutes before the men’s, and their race was quite passive and there was no decisive action until the last lap when the men caught up with the ladies. Then, Astrid Øyre Slind from Norway, who won both sprint points, attacked and four women followed her.
Soon, there were only Slind and last year’s winner Linn Sömskar from Sweden who broke away. Only a few kilometers before the finish, Hann Falk from Sweden showed some true fighting sprint and joined the two. There was a tight sprint finish, and Sömskar was able to claim her third victory in the race. Falk was second and Øyre Slind third.
“It was a tough race,” the winner Sömskar declared at the finish. “I knew that something was going to happen when the men caught us and I just decided to keep up with Astrid. It was impressive how Hanna was able to join us. We skied quite slowly the last kilometers knowing that there would be a sprint finish. I was able to stretch out and get my foot over the finish line before Hanna. I was tired but I had little power left in my body and managed to win the race.”
In the men’s race, there was plenty of action from the beginning. Oskar Kardin attacked after about seven minutes of skiing and broke away from the lead group. He was followed by a 18-year-old junior skier Amund Riege from Norway, and these two skiers worked well together and kept the lead about 50 minutes. Kardin also claimed the first sprint point while Emil Persson from Sweden was the fastest at the second point.
Right after the second sprint, Chris Andre Jespersen attacked and managed to get a gap about 20 seconds, but his amazing breakaway did not hold and the lead group caught up with him just before the finish. There was a tough sprint at the end with many skiers, and Anton Karlsson from Sweden, the sprint king of Visma Ski Classics, managed to beat everyone. However, he chose a wrong line and was thus disqualified making Kasper Stadaas the winner of the race followed by Vegard Vinje from Norway and Calle Halfvarsson from Sweden.
“We had a thrilling race today,” Karlsson admitted right after the finish when his disqualification was not yet announced. “First Oskar showed us that he’s in great shape, and then Chris was amazingly strong today when he broke away during the last lap. The breakaways are not that easy to accomplish in roller-skiing. I was the strongest at the end, but I chose the line outside of the v-boards, which may turn out to fatal for me. We’ll see what the jury thinks about it.”
Gautefallrennet in Norway on August 31 is the next Visma Ski Classics Challenger event followed by Klarälvsloppet in Sweden on September 22. The results of Alliansloppet can be found at https://vismaskiclassics.com/livecenter/.